Radiocarbon dating has shown that humans dwelled in Gough’s Cave 14,700 years ago, making it one of the first sites inhabited by people when they returned to Britain at the end of the last ice age.
The results confirm the site’s great antiquity and suggest human hunters re-colonised Britain at a time of rapid climate warming. From 24,000 years ago, an ice sheet extended over much of Britain.
Beyond that ice sheet, in southern Britain and much of northern France, the environment resembled a polar desert. Evidence suggests these inhospitable conditions kept people out of north-west Europe for more than 9,000 years.